Last week I said that while the Black Caps ODI team looks formidable, the acid test will come when they reach the must-win games. Tonight's match against England could prove to be the first of those.
If Australia beat Sri Lanka tomorrow night, or it rains tonight, it may not be necessary for the Black Caps to win but if they want to control their own destiny, tonight is a must-win.
We've reached this point quickly and I like that. The format for this tournament is good.
It's pacy and instant. The tournament moves along quickly and so far has been a good advertisement for one-day cricket. The English summer, or lack of, may have the final say and already rain and the Duckworth-Lewis system has had an impact but the ICC has made a positive call with this format - the best eight teams in the world quickly coming together to find a champion.
As a concept, it is great and its pace allows it to fit nicely into the congested schedule. There is one problem - the Champions Trophy is not the showpiece of world cricket, the World Cup is and this format is just a little too hit-and-miss to find a world champion.
Two wins and you are into a semifinal; win that and you're into the final. Effectively, four wins and you are the champions. It's too quick, not easy, just not an extensive enough examination to find the true world's best.
This would be the tournament I'd include Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in to comprise two groups of five, out of which the semifinalists are found. Come the World Cup, then include only the world's top eight teams, who play a full round robin before finding semifinalists.
The ICC has tried to find a way to ensure the World Cup is not left to chance and that is why it has pool stages and super stages before moving into sudden death. That's also why they wanted to include rain days. They end up with a worthy champion but also an exhaustive, convoluted and tiresome tournament that becomes a very poor showpiece.
The Champions Trophy could be the start of the ranking period from which teams begin to try and position themselves in the top eight nations. Granted, finals qualification needs to occur far enough out for commercial reasons but 18 months of meaningful ODI play (including perhaps a quick-fire qualifying tournament involving teams seven through 10 in the world; maybe even teams 10 through 13 have a quick go) to see who gets spot 10 in that tournament. But what this all does is re-energise 50-over cricket and its relevance.
Back to the present day - even with the rain, this tournament has been interesting and its 50-over format so heavily influenced by pitch conditions has made for interesting cricket from close-fought low scorers to close-fought high scorers. Well done, ICC.